1. For some time, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) has been carrying out intensive investigations of its recent operation in Gaza, as well as examining claims raised by a number of parties. The results of the investigations conducted by the IDF attest to the significance the IDF ascribes to its own conduct during the battle.
2. The conclusions of the investigations – all firmly backed by facts – have revealed that "a mountain was made out of a molehill." The serious charges leveled at Israel by international parties have been revealed to be divorced from the truth. Moreover, they constitute one component of a politically-motivated incitement campaign being waged against Israel, a campaign which only serves to strengthen Hamas terrorism. Similar anti-Israeli activity was conducted with regard to the so-called massacre in Jenin in 2002, as well as the IDF soldiers' hear-say testimony affair a few weeks ago.
3. The investigation findings prove that the IDF acted in accordance with the highest international standards, in conformity with international laws and conventions. The IDF's actions – in its military and other operations, investigations and transparency-boosting activities – were carried out as ought to be in a democratic society.
The IDF does not hesitate to contend with mistakes or lapses when it identifies them as such.
4. The IDF was operating in Gaza in an extremely complicated and difficult crowded urban environment. Combat occurred in these locales as a direct result of Hamas' preferred strategy of using the civilian Palestinian population as a human shield. Hamas deployed its terrorists, command centers, weapons-manufacturing facilities and weapon depots in the heart of civilian areas. Hamas booby-trapped civilian homes, schools and other public buildings, while it also used these sites as firing positions. It dug tunnels for terror activities under populated areas. This terrorist organization even abused humanitarian localities such as hospitals, UN facilities and ambulances for its own purposes. Hamas' strategy was wholly based on the cynical exploitation of the civilian population as a human shield, in contraction to all internal norms and laws.
5. Despite this complex reality, the IDF did everything in its power to avoid harm to uninvolved civilians. It took care to aim its fire only at terrorists, made 160,000 telephone calls to residents of Gaza warning them of potential harm, dropped more than 2 million warning pamphlets from the skies above Gaza, broadcast advisories over radio stations, fired warning shots and used other techniques, such as "a knock on the roof," to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians. It must be noted that the percentage of civilian casualties during the operation in Gaza was significantly lower than those caused during combat conducted by Western and NATO armies during other conflicts, such as the one in Kosovo.
6. A deceitful propaganda campaign against Israel is being carried out of late. It ignores the murderous terror tactics deployed by Hamas against the citizens of Israel and the residents of Gaza, choosing instead to make false accusations against Israel, charges based solely on lies. Among the results of the IDF investigations that prove this point is the case of a Palestinian medical team which supposedly was hit by IDF fire. The investigation found that the team was not even targeted, and that all its members are alive and well.
It is clear that the charges leveled against the IDF were not based on fact, but rather stemmed from political-motivated false assumptions.
Q & A
1. Why has Israel not submitted to an international investigation?
Israel is a democracy, subject to the rule of law, which strictly observes the principles of the independence and separation of powers so highly prized in democratic states. On the other hand, the terror regime of Hamas dictates its will on Gaza's population, making it impossible to conduct an objective investigation in Gaza. Bitter experience has proven that even human rights organizations have been guilty of a lack of objectivity, relying on information provided by Hamas and contrived testimony.
2. However, doesn't the IDF admit that it killed uninvolved civilians?
The IDF's extensive investigations proved that Hamas was targeted and not uninvolved civilians. Israel's policy is to avoid harming innocents. To meet this goal during the operation in Gaza, the IDF sent warnings to civilians by telephone and dropped pamphlets from the air, as well as employing many other techniques designed to protect uninvolved civilians from harm. It must be noted that the percentage of civilian casualties during the operation in Gaza was significantly lower than those caused during combat conducted by Western and NATO armies during other conflicts. The IDF strives to learn the appropriate lessons from every event, and continuously endeavors to improve its performance. Additionally, the IDF maintains ongoing contacts with international organizations. It established a joint operations center with international organizations in Gaza, to facilitate their operations and allow the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
3. Aren't Hamas' terror attacks a result of Israel's policies towards Gaza?
Hamas is an extremist Islamic terrorist organization, whose goal is to destroy the State of Israel, as stated in the Preamble of the Hamas Charter: "Israel will exist only until Islam obliterates it, just as it obliterated others before it."
In 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza, uprooting thousands of Israeli civilians from their homes and withdrawing all its soldiers. Since then, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, and with its fellow terrorist organizations fired more than 8,000 rockets and mortar bombs at the civilian population of southern Israel, conducted scores of attacks along the border fence and kidnapped the young Israeli conscript, Gilad Shalit. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, imposing a reign of terror and dictatorship also against the Palestinian population. It devotes most of its resources to the smuggling, manufacture and enhancement of its weapons, primarily with the assistance of Iran. No sovereign state could tolerate such an intolerable situation. Israel has had to act in self-defense in order to protect its innocent citizens.